Thursday, March 5, 2015

Learning to Let "It" Go

      When I began working in a middle school library, I was still half- way through my MLIS program, but I had experience as a classroom teacher. While this was probably my saving grace walking into a school library as a “not quite” librarian, it also held me back in many ways.  I had my routines, my lists, and my rules and was firmly in my box, my classroom; notice all the “mys” in this sentence! It took me awhile to adapt to the environment of the library and all its demands.  For months I felt like I wasn’t working as hard as I should be,  just based on the fact that I rarely ever checked anything off my Daily To Do List on the day I made it or sometimes, even the week. Flexibility was definitely the new name of the game. After  years, I felt like I just wasn’t getting it. I struggled to collaborate with teachers, felt like I wasn’t connecting with the kids, and was stressing out about almost every aspect of being a librarian.           

     So I decided to take a step back and really look at what was going on in the library, in the school, in the district. I stopped doing for a while, I watched, I listened, and I thought a lot! What I discovered about me was that I had a crazy need to control everything, which I couldn’t do, and then would waste time trying to figure out what couldn’t be done; back to all those “mys” above. So this is what I did….

1.       Moved my desk from the back office to the library itself.

2.       Solicited feedback from the students in every way.

3.       Started making collections decisions based more on student needs and wants instead of standards and weeded the collection (like seriously).

4.       Began to address the issues in the library design.

5.       Accepted some time out of the regular school day would need to be invested in order to create some deeper connections with students.

     After addressing the above list I learned that I needed to let go of my vision and make it a vision that works for the students. I needed to let go of my want to control every situation and just let some things happen by providing the right environment for it to happen in. And once I did this, I discovered…

1.       By putting myself in the library, I put myself in the lives of my students.

2.       Being with the kids all the time instead of separated from them, I got a better sense of what they wanted and needed.

3.       I provided materials that students were interested in, and I started to pay closer attention to the materials that were in the collection when I arrived …serious weeding, but the details of that are certainly another post.

4.       I rethought the furniture and how it was put together and why it was where it was and then took it apart and moved it, which has turned into a yearly thing, but I’m getting really close to what works.

5.       Library Wednesday was created!!! Every Wednesday from 4-6, the kids can stay (with permission) and do pretty much anything they want, allowing me to learn about what they really want.

By learning to Let “It” Go, HG Hill got a great space with awesome materials with better access to them and a librarian that doesn’t think about what always works in “her world,” but what works for students.


MNPS Librarian

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